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Monday, June 2, 2014

Rubik's Cube - It May Be Square, But It's Definitely Cool

Iaroviz Tsao

Rubik’s Cube is an interesting creation.  If you think of it as a toy, you will find that it is more like a puzzle as scramble to get it back together.   However, if you think of the Cube as structure inside a building, you might understand every movement you make.  Perhaps these are the reasons why people have been fascinated by it for 34 years now.  An estimated 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold worldwide; that means that one in every seven people have played with a Rubik’s Cube.  How did this seemingly simple “toy” come to change the world?

In 1974, Ernő Rubik, a professor of architecture at Budapest’s Academy of Applied Arts and Crafts, created a wooden cube which would not break or fall apart no matter how he twisted and turned it. At first, he used the cube to explain spatial relationships to his students.  Then, he created puzzles while scrambling the cube’s colorful sides and then restoring it. It took him a while to solve the puzzles.  After presenting the cube to his student and seeing their reaction, he realized the Cube’s potential and decided to make it popular—he got it manufactured.  The early cube, marketed as “Magic Cubes,” was patented under Hungary’s communist regime, so it was not an international patent.  Later, the cube was manufactured by an American company and marketed as “Rubik’s Cube” worldwide.  

Now, the Rubik’s Cube is so popular that, it has even been featured in many advertising campaigns. Also, the World Cube Association (WCA) holds the World Rubik's Cube Championship every two years.         The last time the championship was held was in 2013 at Las Vegas.  During the competition, people compared their skills in a number of categories: Speed solving, Blind-folded solving, One-handed solving, Solving with feet, Fewest moves solving, and Multiple blindfolded solving.  Most of the cubes in the competition are 3x3x3 squares.



The Rubik’s Cube can be solved in many ways, but people use the Fridrich method most. The Fridrich method was created by Jessica Fridrich, a professor at Binghamton University and winner of the second place prize in the Rubik’s Cube World Championship in 2003. The solution she created is called CFOP, which was the abbreviation for:

l   C (cross) : create a cross-shaped arrangement of pieces on the first layer;
l   F (first 2 layers ) : coordinate the corner piece in the first layer with the edge of the second layer;
l   O (orient the last layer) : orient the last layer to form a solid color, but don’t put the individual pieces in their correct places;
l   P (permute last layer) : permute all of the pieces to their correct spots.

This method is known as the fastest way to solve the puzzle, so it is the most widely used method. 

The fun of the Rubik’s Cube, of course, lies not in whether you can win a prize but merely in the solving process.  Although you might be able to solve the Rubik’s Cube with a bit of instruction, to do it more than once requires a LOT of practice. If you take it too seriously, it might drive you crazy, but if you just relax, it’s actually fun. Why not get one today and find out for yourself?


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